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Finer points of rail passes -- youth passes and first class

Finer points of rail passes -- youth passes and first class

Nov 18th, 2009, 07:42 PM
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Finer points of rail passes -- youth passes and first class

It's too early to book rail travel, but I took a look at RailEurope.com just to get an idea and checked out the prices of the hotel trains from Venice to Paris and from Paris to Barcelona. The price was a lot higher than I'd imagined...but I noticed that with an appropriate railpass, it's a lot cheaper. We'd be traveling by train some in addition to the hotel trains, so I'm thinking a railpass might be worthwhile.

Here's my confusion, though. We're traveling with what will then be a 15-YO, and the railpasses are sold in second class only for youth passes. On the hotel trains in particular, we'd probably choose to travel 1st class. Does a youth railpass serve any purpose toward booking 1st class train hotel accommodation? And what happens if you book a first class T3 using a railpass for the discount,,,but the youth involved only has a second-class pass? I am SO confused.


beeswing is offline  
Nov 18th, 2009, 10:06 PM
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<<< The price was a lot higher than I'd imagined >>>

Because you looked at Raileurope whose pricing policies would make Michael O'Leary blush.

Suggest you read www.seat61.com instead and book with the appropriate national train company instead

Also look at www.eurail.com if, after reading seat61, you decide that a pass is the best idea (hint, these days it rarely is)
alanRow is offline  
Nov 18th, 2009, 10:15 PM
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When traveling in Spain, it much better to purchase your tickets from Renfe, not Rail Europe. Also, rail passes have no real advantage on any train that requires reservations, AVE, AVANT, etc. When using a rail pass you will not be able to receive the steep discounts available when booking online.
Robert2533 is offline  
Nov 18th, 2009, 11:12 PM
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RailEurope charges a premium for the passes. Not always the cheapest option.
nancicita is offline  
Nov 19th, 2009, 12:37 AM
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Sleeping cars are neither first nor second class. The commonest type of sleeper in western Europe is the T3 which are on the Venezia-Paris train. The compartments can be configured to have one, two or three berths. In the past, a first class ticket was needed if the compartment was booked as a single or double, but a second-class ticket was enough to book a berth in a triple. The only difference in the compartments is the number of berths in use (unused berths are folded away). I believe a rail pass entitles you to the pass-holder fare on the Venezia-Paris train whether the pass is first or second class.
The Spanish hotel train has three types of compartment, as depicted by the Man in Seat 61: four-berth (turista), two-berth (preferente) and two-berth with shower and WC (gran clase).
GeoffHamer is offline  
Nov 19th, 2009, 12:56 AM
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Hi Beeswing, I know you've covered lots of this in other posts, but could you add a list on this post of which train trips will be your sleeper trips. I thought I read that you are going to take one from Venice to Florence, but that's only a four hour trip, so I may be wrong. We took the train from Florence to Venice and quite frankly, we were glad of a forced rest period - travelling becomes VERY tiring and it's good to factor in some breaks.

Anway, a brief list might be useful.
cathies is online now  
Nov 19th, 2009, 05:53 AM
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cathies...We are planning to take the hotel trains from Venice to Paris and then later from Paris to Barcelona.

Thanks, everyone, for your help!

beeswing is offline  
Nov 19th, 2009, 05:56 AM
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Oh, regarding the other train trips...we will be taking trains from Rome to Florence and from Florence to Venice as well...but those aren't the sleepers. (Part of all this fun will be figuring out which trains actually go directly into the Santa Maria Novella station...but that's another topic.)

beeswing is offline  
Nov 19th, 2009, 06:07 AM
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You do know a pass will only get you on a train, not a berth in a sleeper car? You have to pay extra if you want a berth. You will also have to pay extra for seats which are mandatory on most trains you will be using in Italy so you need to add that to your prices of a pass. You will have several hundred dollars of added costs for berths/seats in addition to the price of the passes.
kybourbon is offline  
Nov 19th, 2009, 06:24 AM
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On a semi-related issue.

Several years ago we took a sleeper from Venice to Naples.

The train left Venice (SL) at 11:45. However, the sleeper cars were not added to the train until it got to Mestre about 15 minutes later.

Since the train didn't leave Mestre until 00:15 that was the next day.

When I pre-purchased my sleeper tickets here in the US, I questioned the date (I correctly felt it should have been for the next day) and was told it was correct.

Well, the trainmaster had no record of us and insisted I missed my train the night before.

He had one available berth and made it up for us. I immediately moved in and when he demanded payment, I told him I had no money. He muttered something under his breath and that was it.

We noticed several other Americans at the train who were concerned and confused. When the train departed I didn't see them and assume they had a problem.

Just be careful about trains leaving around midnight. Especially from Venice where some people consider Mestre to be a Venice train station.
Myer is offline  
Nov 19th, 2009, 06:36 AM
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Pass prices may change for next year and supplements will likely increase also. Currently, the cost for a couchette will add an extra $30 - $50 dollars (depending on whether it's 4 person or 6 person) on top of the railpass cost and a sleeper berth will add an extra $50 - $150 per person. When you add these costs on the price of the pass, you can see why it's cheaper to fly one of the budget airlines most of the time.
kybourbon is offline  
Nov 19th, 2009, 07:30 AM
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Here's my confusion, though. We're traveling with what will then be a 15-YO, and the railpasses are sold in second class only for youth passes>

But when you compare the p.p. price of a First Class Saverpass - 2-5 names on one pass and about 20% cheaper p.p. than solo adult passes then you will find that the p.p. price of the 1st class pass vs the youthpass may not be all that much - so be sure to compare p.p. Saverpass prices and not just the individual pass prices. Anyway here are some great sites that will give you a lot more info on European trains and passes than raileurope.com - www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com - tons of info for planning there and not just railpass prices and an add to cart button like on raileurope.com

Pass prices are pegged to the euro and go up and down every few weeks - yup they change constantly - up one week and down the next, by a few dollars only usually - as for saying supplements will likely increase well they can also decrease like on ES trains in Italy - was 15 euros supplement but not down to 10 euros. In nearly every other country (except Spain) there are no supplements at all but in France a mandatory 3 euro seat reservation fee for TGVs. In Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark for instance there are no mandatory reservations and you can just hop on the train anytime you want. So when you hear about steep supplements they are on relatively few trains in Europe (but most in Italy and Spain) so it depends on what countries you will be traveling thru. I am a BIG booster of railpasses and have used at least one annually for 40 years - they are not always the best deal but if doing a farily wide-ranging trip IMO they are almost always a great deal. That said the Fodor mantra is 'railpasses are always a waste of money' - say something enough folks will believe it and repeat it IMO - and don't judge a pass just by money but by the total flexibility to hop any train anytime in most countries. And when comparing fares note that the discounted online fares are usually for 2nd class travel and Eurailpasses, if over 25 yrs old, come in first class and IMO there are tons of reason why a first-class train trip is better for the average tourist than in 2nd class - lots more room for luggage - often many empty seats so say three folks can sit together, etc. I would forget about any youthpass and put your son on a first-class Saverpass.
Palenque is offline  
Nov 19th, 2009, 08:11 AM
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This link may be helpful for the France portion-

zoecat is offline  
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